Good morning, and thank you all for being here today.
There is no more important issue in our state than jobs. There is no progress without jobs. We have recovered now 95 percent of the jobs lost during the recession. Part of the reason is that together we have been able to make the better choices necessary to put more of our people back to work, especially when it comes to infrastructure -- whether it is our transportation infrastructure, our water infrastructure, new schools. These things did not happen by accident. They happened because we all realized that we need to put jobs first.
I wanted to acknowledge the elected officials who are with us today. We are joined by County Executive Rushern Baker from Prince George's County. We also have, County Commission President Candice Quinn Kelly. We also are joined by the Maryland State Senate President Mike Miller, who is kind enough to be with us today.
Senator Ulysses Currie from Prince George's County. Delegate Valderama from Prince George's County. Delegate Melanie Griffith from Prince George's County. Delegate Sally Jamison from Southern Maryland. We also have the Vice President of Charles County Commissioners Ruben Collins, Commissioner Davis, and Commissioner Robinson are with us today. And from Prince George's County, County Councilmembers Karen Tolls and Mel Franklin.
We are very proud of a lot of number one rankings, aren't we? #1 schools, #1 in innovation and entrepreneurship, #1 in per capita Ph.D's. No state has done a better job of closing the achievement gap among low income kids.
But there is one #1 designation that we don't consider to be an honor. It is something that has been a drag on our economy and our ability to create jobs. We are #1 in traffic congestion.
These conditions won't change themselves. They were a long time getting here, but we have the ability to change them.
To create jobs, a modern economy requires modern investments like the modern investments we are announcing today in transportation infrastructure. All told, this is a $650 million investment that we're making in Prince George's County's transportation infrastructure.
Let me just highlight a few of these projects.
Number one is a $50 million investment for a new Metro access road and bridge here at Branch Avenue.
The second project, which I know is huge on County Executive Baker's priority list--is a $50 million investment for a new interchange, just down the road here at Route 4 and Suitland Parkway.
Number three is a $46 million investment across the county for pedestrian safety improvement and better bicycle lanes.
So together these projects will support 4,000 jobs. They will make our roads safer and better for pedestrians.
It is all about the better choices that result in more jobs and opportunities for Maryland's growing middle class. These things don't happen by themselves -- if we want to create jobs, if we want to alleviate traffic, we have to be willing to make the investments.
With that, I would like to welcome to the podium the county executive of a tremendously strong and forward moving county, Rushern Baker.